How to create a birth plan - Ruth Health

How to create a birth plan

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Childbirth is unique for each birthing person, and you have many opportunities to personalize the experience. We recommend documenting your preferences in a birth plan.

While this can’t make labor and delivery any more predictable, it will ensure that your birthing team understands what’s important to you and may help you feel a little more prepared for the unexpected.

Here are some tips to help you create the best birth plan for your needs. 

Once you have a sense of your ideal birthing experience, be sure to download our free birth plan template.

You may also want to consider working with a doula, a non-medically trained birth worker who can help advocate for you during labor.

Learn more about Ask A Doula by Ruth Health.

What is a birth plan?

You probably have a vision of how you want to give birth. A birth plan allows you to share that vision with your birthing team. 

Labor doesn’t always go as expected, and you may need to depart from some aspects of your birth plan for the health of you and your baby. However, it's an essential starting point.

To ensure that labor and delivery reflect your wishes even if the ideal scenario isn’t possible, create a birth plan that leaves room for flexibility. 

For instance, discuss your options for both vaginal and c section delivery with your provider and include your preferences for each in your plan.

What should I include in my birth plan?

Your birth plan should account for all aspects of childbirth, including aftercare and your baby’s first moments in the world. These are some of the most important questions to ask yourself.

Birthing location

Birthing team

  • Who do I want with me? My partner, family, or friends?
  • Do I want to enlist the support of a doula or midwife?

Include the names and contact information of all the people you want present during labor.

How to labor

  • What are my preferred labor and birthing positions? Do I want to use props like a birthing ball?
  • Do I want to walk around freely in early labor?
  • Do I want to use hydrotherapy? (Some hospitals offer access to hydrotherapy pools.)
  • Do I want continuous or intermittent fetal monitoring? (Consult your care team when making this decision.)

Pain management

  • What’s my pain management plan? What medication do I want to take, if any?
  • Do I want an epidural?
  • Do I want alternative comfort measures such as breathwork, hot or cold therapy, or massage therapy?

Include information about allergies, other health conditions, and any medications you take.

Delivery

  • Do I want to watch the delivery? If you’d like to record your baby’s birth, be sure to check hospital guidelines.
  • Under which conditions would I like an episiotomy? (This is a minor incision to the skin and muscles between the vaginal opening and anus. In rare cases, it may be necessary to prevent tearing.)
  • Under which circumstances do I want assisted vaginal delivery? (This may be medically required under certain circumstances.)
  • What is my plan if a c section is necessary? What’s my pain management plan? Do I want my partner or a support person with me the entire time?

Recovery and postnatal care

  • Do I want my baby’s first exam given in my presence?
  • Who do I want to cut the umbilical cord?
  • Do I want to bank or donate cord blood?
  • What do I want to do with the placenta?
  • Do I want to hold my baby immediately after birth?
  • How do I want to feed my baby?

When should I create my birth plan?

Finalize the big components of your birth plan — specifically your birthing location and care team — as early as possible in your pregnancy.

Reviewing your birth plan with a provider will help you determine if the relationship is a good fit. If you have any concerns about their recommendations, remember you are always within your right to work with another.

You can focus on the remaining elements of your plan during the second trimester, if needed. As part of this process, be sure to ask all the questions you need to at your prenatal appointments.

Who should I share my birth plan with?

The goal of a birth plan is to keep your birthing team on the same page, so everyone who will be present during labor should have a copy of it.

Take time reviewing your birth plan with your OB/GYN or midwife. If any of your preferences aren’t possible due to medical reasons, you’ll want to know before you arrive at your birthing location.

Personalize your labor experience with support from Ruth Health

Nobody knows what you need better than you, and Ruth Health is here to support your birthing journey however we can.

Ask A Doula by Ruth Health offers unlimited texting access to a doula for personalized support during pregnancy and postpartum. Start for free.

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